Experts tell us that babies need a lot of sleep. The dream scenario is: 12 hours each night, four to six hours each day, and from six weeks onward baby “should” sleep through the night. In reality, even adults don’t sleep through the night without waking. Just like other skills such as eating and learning, it takes a lot of patient parenting to help your baby sleep as well as possible.
Our adult sleep cycle is very different from the baby sleep cycle. While adults fall into a deep sleep immediately and slowly transition into lighter REM sleep, babies are the opposite. Babies sleep very lightly for a period before drifting into deeper sleep.
If you watch your tiny one fall asleep, you’ll notice that for the first twenty minutes, her eyes might flutter, a fist clenches, arms and legs flex and twitch, and you might even notice some momentary little smiles. During this period of lighter sleep, your baby is more susceptible to waking.
It can help to stay close for the first twenty minutes after your little love falls asleep. You can either keep holding your baby or put them down in the crib and place your hand on their belly or back, so you can soothe them back to sleep when they stir. Once you notice baby relax into a deeper sleep, it’s safe to assume they’re less likely to wake without a good reason.
After the initial period of light REM sleep, assuming your little love doesn’t have any health issues that might cause waking during the night, there are many possible reasons why she or he might not sleep through the night. Some of those reasons are preventable, while others are necessary physiological instincts that keep baby safe and healthy:
1. Diaper discomfort
A leaking diaper will cause your little love to wake up wet, cold, and in distress. Don’t worry, we’ve got you! Bambo Nature’s super absorbent three-layer top diaper design wicks away moisture that can cause discomfort, for a dry and comfy night – at least from the waist down!
2. Movement and learning a new skill
It turns out that major developmental milestones like learning to roll over, or sit up, or grasp objects really do happen over night! Your baby will practice these new skills in her sleep. It’s an essential part of the learning and memorization process. Overall, babies need a lot of movement to stay comfy during the day and night, so a diaper that fits perfectly and is thin and flexible enough with leakage-proof soft stretchy side panels to allow for activity during the night and is essential. Extra energetic spurts can cause more waking during the night, but as long as your baby is comfortable she should fall back to sleep without too much fuss.
3. Hungry or thirsty
Younger babies have tiny bellies and they digest breast milk super fast, so they tend to need more regular small feedings. But even as your baby grows, his need for food will fluctuate from day to day depending on all kinds of developmental and habitual factors. While we’re generally aware that waking because of hunger happens all the time, it’s easy to forget that twelve hours is a really long time for a little one to go without hydration – especially during the summer months. Talk to your doctor about safe and healthy ways of gradually changing your feeding schedule in a way that doesn’t reduce the calories he’s taking in, but allows for longer periods without feeding at night.
4. Baby wants to be close to you
And, can you blame her? She’s in love! Babies need to feel safe, secure, and comforted around the clock, and there’s no safer place than in mom or dad’s arms.
5. Pain and sickness
Naturally, if your baby were unwell, you would take him to the doctor and keep up with his medication and prepare for some harder nights of sleep. But common discomforts like teething pain, diaper rash, coughs and colds, and digestive issues like colic are alarm clocks for sensitive little ones. Especially since babies tend to sleep lighter for longer periods than adults, pain and congestion are much harder to sleep through. Diaper rash is the most preventable if you use a skin-healthy diaper with a breathable back-sheet that protects against allergens. If your baby is fussing and it’s not a diaper issue, try to find the cause and soothe him the way you normally would, using humidifiers, baby oil massage, and teething aides.
So, it turns out that while you can choose the right diaper to get your little one through the night comfortably, and you can change up scheduled feedings according to her or his fluctuating needs, a baby’s impulse to wake during the night is really there to help you help her stay safe and healthy.
And, if it’s any consolation, experts say that there is a correlation between babies who tend to wake more in the night and high intelligence and better mental health.